Liquid biopsy accurately detects HPV+ oropharyngeal cancer recurrence

Source: Author: Zeena Nackerdien PhD, CME Writer, MedPage Today In general, HPV-positive OPSCC has a favorable prognosis as compared with HPV-negative disease, which has supported efforts to de-intensify treatment regimens to reduce exposure to potentially toxic therapies. Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging 3 months after definitive treatment is standard for response assessment in many cases. However, the disease will recur in up to 25% of patients, depending on clinical risk factors and tumor biology. The latency period prior to OPSCC recurrence is 2 years for many patients, but rare case reports have described latency periods exceeding 5 years. Currently, National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines recommend surveillance of patients with HPV-associated OPSCC every 1 to 3 months for the first year, every 2 to 6 months for the second year, every 4 to 8 months for years 3 to 5, and then once a year thereafter. Because the oropharynx can be a difficult anatomic location to evaluate -- a process that may be further obscured by treatment-related tissue changes -- radiologic imaging studies have been used in cancer surveillance for this disease. According to study findings published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, a blood test for tumor-associated HPV-DNA had near-perfect accuracy for identifying OPSCC patients at high risk of recurrence after treatment. The findings have clear and immediate implications for clinical practice, including earlier initiation of salvage therapy for patients with recurrent disease, reported Bhishamjit S. Chera, MD, of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel [...]

Which cancers have increased over the past decade?

Source: Author: Naveed Saleh, MD, MS, for MDLinx The incidence of cancers at the level of the oral cavity and pharynx increased between 2007 and 2016, according to a recent report by researchers from the CDC published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This rise occurred despite respective decreases in the incidence of cancers at various anatomic sites. Cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx make up 3% of cancers diagnosed in the United States each year, with risk factors including tobacco use, HPV infection, and excessive alcohol intake. “The overall increase appears to be driven by increases in cancers of the tonsil, base of tongue, oropharynx, and other cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, which are HPV-associated, as well as by those of gum and anterior tongue,” wrote the authors. Breaking down the numbers On average, the incidence rates for cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx combined increased by 0.6% per year between 2007 and 2016, with specific increases as follows: Oral cavity and pharynx (3.4%) Base of tongue (1.8%) Anterior tongue (1.8%) Gum (1.9%) Tonsil (2.4%) Oropharynx (1.9%) For the following cancers, however, incidence rates decreased: Soft palate and uvula (−3.7%) Hard palate (−0.9%) Floor of mouth (−3.1%) Lip (−2.7%) Hypopharynx (−2.4%) Nasopharynx (−1.3%) Of note, the incidence of cheek and other mouth and salivary gland cancers remained unchanged.

Novel intervention looks to improve timeliness, equity of head and neck cancer care delivery

Source: Author: staff report, Medical University of South Carolina Many factors go into surviving cancer. Hollings Cancer Center researcher Evan Graboyes, M.D., specializes in head and neck cancer, a disease with poor survival prospects despite intense therapy with combinations of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. While head and neck cancer only accounts for 4% of all cancer cases each year in the US, it has a high mortality rate. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 14,000 patients died from this disease in the U.S. in 2019. Overall, only 50% of head and neck cancer patients are alive at five years. Unfortunately, the mortality rate is even worse for African American head and neck cancer patients. That’s why researchers are looking for new strategies to improve patient survival and decrease racial disparities in outcomes for these patients. Graboyes and MUSC Hollings Cancer Center researchers Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Ph.D., Katherine Sterba, Ph.D., Hong Li, Ph.D., and Graham Warren, M.D., Ph.D., have teamed up to develop and test a novel intervention to improve the timeliness, equity and quality of head and neck cancer care delivery, which they think might one day be the key to improving survival for these patients. Funded by a $1.3 million 5-year grant from the National Cancer Institute, their study - Improving the Timeliness and Equity of Adjuvant Therapy Following Surgery for Head and Neck Cancer-started in September 2019 and built upon important research funded by grants from Hollings Cancer Center. Graboyes explained that for patients with advanced [...]

Home-based chemo skyrockets at one US center

Source: Author: Nick Mulcahy In the fall of 2019, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia started planning a pilot program of home-based chemotherapy for two treatment regimens (one via infusion and one via injection). Six months later, the Cancer Care at Home program had referred 40 patients. The uptake within the university's large regional health system was acceptable but not rapid, admitted Amy Laughlin, MD, a hematology-oncology fellow involved with the program. Then COVID-19 arrived, along with related travel restrictions. Suddenly, in a 4-week period (March 10 to April 7), an additional 135 patients had been referred ― a 300% increase from earlier. The list of chemotherapies delivered went from two to seven, with more coming. "We're not the pilot anymore ― we're the standard of care," Laughlin told Medscape Medical News. "The impact [on patients] is amazing," she said. "As long as you are selecting the right patients and right therapy, it is feasible and even preferable for a lot of patients." For example, patients with hormone-positive breast cancer who receive leuprolide (to shut down the ovaries and suppress estrogen production) ordinarily would have to visit a Penn facility for an injection every month, potentially for years. Now, a nurse can meet patients at home (or before the COVID-19 pandemic, even at their place of work) and administer the injection, saving the patient travel time and associated costs. This home-based chemotherapy service does not appear to be offered elsewhere in the United States, and a major oncology organization [...]

Gene variant makes head and neck cancer more aggressive

Source: Author: posted by National University of Singapore A genetic variant in a gene called MET is responsible for more aggressive growth of head and neck cancer, and lung cancer, according to a new study. A further probe into the finding reveals therapeutic strategies that could potentially target this genetic alteration and pave the way for better and more effective treatments. The MET gene encodes for a cancer promoting protein that relays growth, survival, and transmission of signals in cancer cells, researchers say. As reported in Nature Communications, researchers also identified a form of MET protein which showed ethnic preference with higher incidence among Asians, and associated with poorer prognosis in patients diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma or lung squamous cell carcinoma. Even though the MET variant does not seem to predispose someone to head and neck cancer or lung cancer, it leads to more aggressive growth of cancers that have already developed. Unlike other MET mutants, existing MET-blocking drugs do not seem to inhibit this genetic variant, prompting researchers to conduct further investigation on the mechanism behind the genetic alteration. The team found that the single amino-acid change in the MET receptor from the genetic alteration leads to preferential strong binding to another cancer promoting protein, HER2. Both proteins then work together to drive cancer aggression and allow the cancer cells to survive therapies that involve MET-blocking drugs. “The mechanism of this MET variant is novel and unreported. This finding contributes to the growing evidence [...]

John Prine, Who Chronicled the Human Condition in Song, Dies at 73

Source: The New York Times Date: April 7th, 2020 Author: William Grimes   John Prine, the raspy-voiced country-folk singer whose ingenious lyrics to songs by turns poignant, angry and comic made him a favorite of Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and others, died on Tuesday in Nashville. He was 73. The cause was complications of the coronavirus, his family said. Mr. Prine underwent cancer surgery in 1998 to remove a tumor in his neck identified as squamous cell cancer, which had damaged his vocal cords. In 2013, he had part of one lung removed to treat lung cancer. He had been hospitalized since late last month. Mr. Prine was a relative unknown in 1970 when Mr. Kristofferson heard him play one night at a small Chicago club called the Fifth Peg, dragged there by the singer-songwriter Steve Goodman. Mr. Kristofferson was performing in Chicago at the time at the Quiet Knight. At the Fifth Peg, Mr. Prine treated him to a brief after-hours performance of material that, Mr. Kristofferson later wrote, “was unlike anything I’d heard before.” A few weeks later, when Mr. Prine was in New York, Mr. Kristofferson invited him onstage at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village, where he was appearing with Carly Simon, and introduced him to the audience. “No way somebody this young can be writing so heavy,” he said. “John Prine is so good, we may have to break his thumbs.” The record executive Jerry Wexler, who was in the audience, signed Mr. Prine to [...]

2020-04-08T11:13:26-07:00April, 2020|Oral Cancer News|

Blood Test Spot On for HPV Cancer Recurrence

Source: MedPage Today Date: April 1st, 2020 Author: Charles Bankhead   A blood test for tumor-associated human papillomavirus (HPV)-DNA had near-perfect accuracy for identifying oropharyngeal cancer patients at high risk of recurrence after treatment, a prospective study showed. Overall, 28 patients tested positive for circulating tumor (ct) HPV-DNA, including 16 patients who had two consecutive positive tests. All but one of the 16 patients subsequently had biopsy-proven disease recurrence. No patient who had only negative tests developed recurrent disease. The findings have clear and immediate implications for clinical practice, including earlier initiation of salvage therapy for patients with recurrent disease, reported Bhisham S. Chera, MD, of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and colleagues in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "With regard to how this is applicable to clinical practice, I think it improves the effectiveness, it improves the efficiency, and it reduces the cost and financial toxicity to patients," Chera told MedPage Today. "This blood test's performance is really good: Negative predictive value (NPV) 100%, two consecutive positive tests, 94% positive predictive value (PPV). This performs better than any physical examination, PET/CT, or fiberoptic re-examination in identifying cancer recurrence. Right now, I think this is the best surveillance tool we have." The findings extended those of a previous report, which showed that a persistently negative ctHPV-DNA test ruled out disease recurrence. HPV infection accounts for a majority of new cases of oropharyngeal cancer in the U.S. After years of rapid increases in prevalence and [...]

2020-04-06T15:57:39-07:00April, 2020|Oral Cancer News|

Guidelines developed for head and neck care during COVID-19

Source: Author: posted by Physicians Weekly In a special article published online March 31 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, guidelines are presented for head and neck physical examination and associated procedures during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Since head and neck examinations are considered high risk in patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, Babak Givi, M.D., from NYU Langone Health in New York City, and colleagues developed recommendations for health care workers based on review of the literature and communication with physicians with firsthand knowledge of safety procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors note that nonurgent appointments should be postponed to limit infection of patients or health care workers. This may include postponing appointments for patients with benign disease and for those undergoing routine surveillance after treatment for head and neck cancer. Patients should be queried by telephone about new or concerning signs or symptoms that may indicate recurrence and/or pending issues, as well as symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. In-person clinic visits should be offered to those at risk for significant negative outcomes without evaluation. To maintain relationships with patients and support assessments that can be made without in-person examinations, the use of telephone, video, or telemedicine visits should be considered. In-person examinations should be limited to patients who need a thorough head and neck examination. Detailed guidelines are provided for physical examinations and associated procedures. “By following carefully planned routines and procedures, we will be able to provide excellent care and help protect the safety [...]

New blood test can detect wide range of cancers, now available to at risk individuals in clinical study at Dana-Farber

Source: Author: news release In a study involving thousands of participants, a new blood test detected more than 50 types of cancer as well as their location within the body with a high degree of accuracy, according to an international team of researchers led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Mayo Clinic. The results, published online today by the Annals of Oncology, indicate that the test – which identified some particularly dangerous cancers that lack standard approaches to screening – can play a key role in early detection of cancer. Early detection can often be critical to successful treatment. Developed by GRAIL, Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., the test uses next-generation sequencing to analyze the arrangement of chemical units called methyl groups on the DNA of cancer cells. Adhering to specific sections of DNA, methyl groups help control whether genes are active or inactive. In cancer cells, the placement of methyl groups, or methylation pattern, is often markedly different from that of normal cells – to the extent that abnormal methylation patterns are even more characteristic of cancer cells than genetic mutations are. When tumor cells die, their DNA, with methyl groups firmly attached, empties into the blood, where it can be analyzed by the new test. “Our previous work indicated that methylation-based tests outperform traditional DNA-sequencing approaches to detecting multiple forms of cancer in blood samples,” said Dana-Farber’s Geoffrey Oxnard, MD, co-lead author of the study with Minetta Liu, MD, of the Mayo Clinic. “The results of this [...]

Insurance coverage key to timely care in head and neck cancer cases

Source: Author: Medical University of South Carolina A study published in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery examines the effect of Medicaid expansion on head and neck cancer patients, finding that the expansions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were associated with improved access to care for these patients and selective Medicaid expansion may worsen existing regional disparities in terms of access to care and outcomes. Medicaid expansion refers to a provision in the ACA that called for expansion of Medicaid eligibility to cover more low-income Americans. It was determined that each state would decide whether to participate in the expansion - accept federal funds - or not. As of 2020, 37 states including the District of Columbia accepted Medicaid expansion. South Carolina is one of 14 states that has not. As a result, there are gaps in coverage for adults who have incomes above Medicaid eligibility limits yet still below the poverty level, exacerbating challenges with access to care, which is vital in the early detection of cancer. "We performed the study because delivering timely head and neck cancer care is critical for optimal outcomes," said Evan Graboyes, M.D., a researcher at Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina and senior author on the study. The surgeon at MUSC Health specializes in the treatment of head and neck cancers. The team analyzed data from a national sample of nearly 91,000 adults with newly diagnosed head and neck cancer who were identified from the National Cancer [...]

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